McFarlane, Sarah Heller (Summer 2008).The Laptops Are Coming! The Laptops Are Coming!. Rethinking Schools Online. 22, 1-7.
This teacher writes a reflection about her first year using laptop technology in her high school social studies class. She addresses the ethics and power structures involved. She reflects upon how we can create a learning environment which tracks the impact of technology on the "cognitive, social and emotional development" of students and educators.
It is interesting to see how a "dream come true," the provision of each student with a lap top created problems for her as an educator and for her students as well. She found that the introduction of the technology and the time required to implement to made it difficult to simultaneously analyze what was happening. Additionally, the mandates from her district such as professional development time, use of email, online attendance, grade entry and substitute request programs and eventually web site creation for all teachers, posting grades online and use of technology in class frustrated her because it took time away from teaching.
She found that her adolescent students were becoming disconnected from each other and the content of the course as well. And that her ELL students who were less technologically savvy and who were less adept at the text laden assignments because resentful of the lap top program. These problems were in her opinion based on a lack of social justice and equality and negatively shaped relationships and learning.
How would I handle a similar situation in my classroom?
I watched the videos available on the ISTE website when doing the Power Point Presentation and saw students working in groups on projects with "real life" experience (such as collecting data for the science project) and placing the data into prearranged programs on their lap tops. This will alleviate the student alienation and have students interact between the online world and the real world. Students would have to talk to each other as a result they would increase their social skills thereby alleviating the author’s concerns about alienation.
How can the use of technology in the classroom increase social justice and equality?
Using the web to increase social justice and equality would be an easy task if students were focused on sites such as "taking it global". Decreasing the amount of text laden assignments would also help ELL students to feel competent. And finally, using the technology to work in groups would allow students with various strengths and needs to support one another.
Check out the link to Digital Youth Network referred to in the article as a program that works!